I am so excited to be bringing you this feature today! I am feeling a sense of hometown pride because a dear friend of mine from high school Jen, along with her sister Kim, have started selling their beautiful handmade creations under the name, Cowl & Company
Jen, your background is not in fashion, how did you get started with Cowl & Company?
Though my professional background isn’t in fashion, I have always loved fashion, I believe a love for something paired with enough creativity and drive will help you to achieve anything. Cowl & Company began in December 2012. I had found an amazing Nordic fleece fabric that was so thick, soft, and had the cutest reindeer pattern, and super cozy (perfect for Vancouver’s rainy winters!) I bought enough to make one cowl for myself, and then received so many compliments over it that I made some for friends, and then realized there was a demand for good quality, locally made cowls (I’m in love with cowls vs. scarves simply because in the wind of downtown – a regular scarf will get blown away pretty quickly!).
Then everything started to blossom. I set a goal of having an online shop and Facebook page, with 6 different cowls by December 5, 2012. At that moment I realized that I needed help, and that it would be more fun having someone special along for the ride. I knew Kim loved crocheting, so I threw the question out there – and asked if she wanted to sell her creations. She was hesitant but I think if you asked her now she wouldn’t regret her decision! We spent all 4 days leading up to December 5th purchasing lots of Nordic fleece fabric, and jersey fabrics. I searched through many, many fabric stores looking for just the right fabric! When we launched we had overwhelming support, and the support hasn’t stopped. Now, we have sold over 150 cowls, and we can’t wait to see what will happen in 2013!
We all have those days when the creative juices just aren’t flowing. What inspires you to keep going and create these beautiful cowls?
Kim: The wonderful thing about crocheting is I rarely get bored. There are so many beautiful patterns and yarns. If I’m lacking inspiration I’ll go to my local yarn store, Three Bags Full, and simply look and touch the different yarns until I find one that stands out. I also love to crochet outside, with the flowers and the birds. I could sit outside all day!
Tell us a little bit about your sister.
Jen: Kim is an amazing crocheter and knitter. She creates things that I thought only machines could. Her dedication to expanding her knowledge in the field of needlework is so admirable. Kim doesn’t care about doing things out of the box – she loves her field of education (mining engineering) and crocheting. They don’t go together for most people – but they do for her!
Kim: Jen has been a very creative person since she was a kid. She loved to draw and make houses for her toys. She spent awhile trying different crafts before figuring out that she loved fabrics and sewing. Ever since she has been extremely dedicated to her craft and expanding her skills. Jen sets her mind on something, and gets it done. She has always been like that.
What is your goal with Cowl & Company?
Jen: My goal with Cowl & Company is to provide the public with great, handmade pieces. Each of our items has been handmade from beginning to end. From finding the wool or fabric, to deciding what we want to turn it into, to completion, and then selling it at markets – everything is done by Kim & I – and people appreciate that. We want to be able to provide this for as long as possible.
Kim: My goal is to continue to grow the company with my sister. This will mean continuing to develop my skills as a crocheter (and up-and-coming knitter!) so that I can deliver the best products to our customers. I am starting the process of designing my own crochet patterns, I’m excited to be able to eventually sell my own designed finished products as well as offer my patterns to other crocheters.
What is the best part about working with your sister?
Jen: The best part about working with Kim in this adventure, is the amount of time we spend together. We crochet together (though she is much better!), we have tea together, brainstorm ideas together, and attend markets together. Our differences make us stronger as a team.
Kim: My sister and I are very different people, having this company with her has allowed us to share something common together. I’ve gotten to know her better and we’ve become more like friends then sisters because of it. I’ve also been able to give her some crochet tips, as she is learning, which has been pretty neat.
What styling tips would you suggest to your customers? Is there a right or wrong way to wear your cowl?
Jen: Well, there isn’t a “right or wrong” way. We like to wear them long, or loop them once around the neck to make them shorter or more comfortable. To each their own! The only word of advice I would have, is that once you put your cowl on – check it out in the mirror and notice how great you look! …and fluff it because sometimes they can use a little of that!
Kim: I really don’t think there is a right or wrong way to wear our cowls. Everyone is different and everyone will want to wear them differently. Wear them looped once or twice, wear them with jeans, leggings or a dress, it doesn’t matter!
What advice can you offer to other young entrepreneurs wanting to get started?
Jen: Go for it! Dream big! Start it up and see where it can go. More and more people are realizing that we can do whatever we set our mind to – it’s cliché but so true! If you love making or doing something, why not turn it into a business? We are so lucky to be in a country that takes pride in small businesses, so why not? What do you have to lose?
Kim: Dive in! The hardest part is taking the first steps. Develop connections with other entrepreneurs, these connections are crucial.
What’s next for Cowl & Company?
Jen: That’s a great question. We don’t really know! To be practical, we are going to be at many, many Vancouver markets throughout the year. Our main goal long-term is to be carried in a few boutiques, but they have to be the right ones. Cowl & Company is like a baby to us, and we want to see how far it can go. We want it’s feel to stay local, and home-grown, so we tread lightly into expansion.
Kim: Well, we have a line up of spring craft fairs (including Got Craft? and Great Canadian Craft Fair) and are investigating boutiques that may be interested in carrying our cowls. For crocheting/knitting, I am starting a line of Tea Cozies that are the CUTEST things I have ever created. Can’t wait to debut them!
My pick for the perfect Spring addition to your wardrobe:
Next time you need a gift for someone special or feel like treating yourself, don’t go to the mall for something generic, be sure to check out their fabulous Etsy shop here: Cowl & Company and their website here.
Hope you’ve enjoyed their beautiful designs as much as I have!